Story of Our Growth

The partnership that led to City Connects began in the early 1990s. Researchers and leaders at Boston College, a Boston Public elementary school, and community agencies began to explore ways to address out-of-school factors that impact students’ success and thriving in school.

The Boston College and Boston Public Schools partners engaged the school and community in a two-year planning effort from 1999 to 2001. The partners drew on best practices emerging at the time from research on student support. In an iterative process, they repeatedly convened school principals, teachers, other school and district staff, representatives of community agencies, and families to develop a system that re-organized the work schools have traditionally done in the area of student support (e.g., the work carried out by school counselors, nurses, psychologists, and community partners). The resulting system met the criteria of best practices and was initially implemented in Boston schools in 2001. 

This implementation, which is now City Connects, proved scalable. City Connects expanded from six Boston Public Schools to six more in a new area of the city in 2007. Three years later, the success of the program led the school district to invite City Connects to expand to six “Turnaround” schools — that is, schools officially designated by No Child Left Behind (NCLB) standards as in the category of “Restructuring.” City Connects has since expanded to public schools in Springfield, Holyoke and Brockton, MA; New York City (in partnership with Children’s Aid Society); Hartford, CT; and Dayton, Ohio. It is now being implemented in over 70 public, charter, and Catholic schools in four states.

The model has also led to measurable outcomes.